The Dialogue That Dare Not Speak Its Lines
This film leads to a lot of questions . Looking at the message board on
this page several people are asking when this film was released while
people who've actually seen THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY are now asking
why it was released . I'm actually a combination of the two . I'm
wondering why it was produced and when it is set . Apparently the story
starts with Dorian's grandfather coming home from a hard days work
building atomic bombs and then killing his daughter . I'm just sort of
curious where abouts in the Victorian world there was an atomic weapons
project . Worse still in a fit of angst and guilt it was this led to
Dorian's grandfather killing himself and his daughter " Who'd have
thought that the smallest thing in creation would kill the most number
of people " Hmmmm well since the film ignores any sense of time and
setting I think it's only fair neutrinos are smaller than atoms whilst
firearms have killed far more people than atomic bombs . So have
machetes in fact . If you're going to play hard and loose with science
and history you're leaving yourself open to all sorts of counterattacks
As bad as the obvious and anrachronisms are such as atomic bombs and
modern day cars and clothing that keep appearing from scene to scene
it's probably the acting and dialogue that makes the film so irritating
. . Some people have complained that Basil has become female but it
wouldn't be nearly as bad if Rainer Judd had
1 ) A decent line
2 ) Gave the impression that she might have attended an acting class
Both the dialogue and the performances are dire from all the cast .
Hands up anyone who' had a conversation similar to this ?
" A realism that is vulgar "
" But it's the lack of realism that is vulgar "
" Passion embraces your lips with its hideous fire "
I'm not exactly reminded of Oscar Wilde with these lines or indeed
William Goldman or Robert Towne . More like someone who thinks they're
being clever by writing the most stilted lines possible . In fact I'd
call it " The dialogue that dare not speak its lines "
A cinematic story with an eponymous character is often carried by the
lead and unfortunately Josh Duhamel doesn't carry it off very well . He
comes across as a good natured Guy Pearce appearing at some provincial
theater rather than a haunted character from a Victorian novel . The
most unlucky cast member though is Ms Judd who hasn't made any more
movies since this one . It'd be difficult to believe she got offered
worse scripts than this one.
Lavish but listless
As I see it, one important element is missing from David Rosenbaum's
lavish production of the Oscar Wilde morality story and that is Oscar
Wilde himself. His words are all here, the witticisms and wry comments
on social manners that shocked Victorian England, but they rarely punch
through the wooden acting and listless pace. It must have seemed a good
idea to do a modern remake of the now classic tale of the portrait that
ages while the sitter himself remains eternally young but what was
perhaps less wise was to cast as principles actors who give the
impression they don't fully understand the value of what they're
Literary gems trip from their lips like so many throwaway lines and I
kept wanting to tell them to slow down the timing and to pace
themselves. In the title role, Josh Duhamel (NBC's Las Vegas) lacks, in
my opinion, the experience to carry the role of a man who has sold his
soul to the Devil. We are told he is festering in his own private hell
but where is the fire behind his eyes, the internal destructive force
driving him towards his own annihilation? Having purchased immortality,
the young man embraces a life of perversion and debauchery which, for
the most part, is played out off screen. Whether the reasons are
economic or moral, I neither know nor care but as a member of an
audience, I have to see for myself just how far he has sunken if the
final climactic scene is to work for me. The cynic Harry Wotton, once
splendidly portrayed by George Sanders, is a disappointment here too in
the hands of Branden Waugh. Harry is an individual loath to recognize
goodness in anything or anyone but Waugh doesn't exude the obligatory
world weariness for all his cigarette waving and posing by the sofa.
Rosenbaum took the unusual step of casting a woman, Rainer Judd, in the
role of the painter, Basil Ward and it succeeds, surprisingly enough.
She brings a lightness to the trio of principals which might otherwise
have sunk under its own weight. The director explains on the IMDb
message board the reason for this notable bit of creative
casting...because it was the natural thing to do after he read that
Wilde wanted Basil to represent his feminine side in what was, in
effect, a love triangle between three men. I liked particularly the
choice of opulent locales in Bulgaria which were beautifully
photographed by Voythech Todorow. The film was viewed at the American
Film Market 2004 in Santa Monica.